“My Mexican Cousin” - fried sweet-corn fritters, with kasundi, halloumi, greens, tomato, and poached egg.
At ST ALi North, Carlton North.
Off-shoot of the famous ST ALi (now ST ALi South). Located in a little parkland strip next to some bike trails, thus conveniently drawing a throng of fashionable bike-riding coffee-sipping foodie-enthusiasts. Yes, it is all very hipster.
Ignoring the bike racks and an additional takeaway window, the menu has remained very much the same, and the staff brew an equally delicious coffee from those ST ALi beans. But sadly, unlike its Southern counterpart, ST ALi North is still in café infancy and struggling to find its feet to keep up with the pace that comes with the name. Waiters are confused, run off their feet, and often fail to notice customers in need to service.
Perhaps it was simply my hunger-striken bias after waiting 30+ minutes for a glass of water and some menus… but I found the food, whilst “nice”, was not quite there. It was as if there was something missing and the dish simply didn’t come together. And despite meeting the famed Salvatore Malatesta, who personally waited on our table and warmly rectified the lack of service… I cannot say that my experience at ST ALi North was one that will prompt my return any time soon.
Yet, it will be interesting to see whether ST ALi North establishes itself as one of those solid Melbournian café institutions, or whether it becomes a sinking ship in Salvatore Malatesta’s coffee and culinary fleet.